Gas blast victims ask: 'Why weren't we evacuated?'

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by STEVE STOLER

WFAA

Posted on January 14, 2013 at 8:00 PM

LEWISVILLE — There are still a lot of questions surrounding that deadly natural gas explosion Friday at a Lewisville duplex.

One man, who was inside that building when it exploded, died Sunday evening. His neighbors are asking why he wasn't evacuated, and why was the non-profit group that owned the duplex not notified about the gas leak until after the blast.

Lewisville city leaders said their firefighters did everything by the book when a four-inch gas main began leaking Friday morning. But that doesn't mean they won't take a closer look at all their procedures to see if anything needs to be changed.

Lewisville Firefighters and Atmos Energy workers never asked Scott Deahl or his neighbors to leave — even though the gas rupture was just 50 feet from his duplex.

Deahl's neighors want to know why.

"They evacuated these people over here," said Bronnia Campbell. "What's their problem? All of us in here were in just as much danger."

Lewisville city officials said their firefighters did everything they were supposed to. Since winds were blowing leaking gas away from Deahl's duplex, it wasn't considered part of the danger zone.

They told us Atmos Energy representatives monitored the air and ground both upwind and downwind of the break, including near the duplex.

"They found absolutely no trace of gas in the air and no trace of gas on the ground," said Lewisville spokesman James Kunke.

Christian Community Action owns the duplex. It was not notified about the leak prior to the explosion.

"No one did," Kunke said. "They were all focused on the emergency at the time, and trying to resolve that situation safely."

Jean Rich, who lives at the CCA complex, said the non-profit should have been notified. "They would've got right there," she said. "You better believe it."

CCA had helped Deahl get his life back on track after drugs and alcohol cost him his family and his home. The organization’s president, Ron Batts, read Deahl's own words from a letter he recently wrote about his struggles:

"Now I'm trying to walk the path with God by doing some volunteer work with CCA, hoping to find my way in life."

Batts told reporters: "I have good news for you. He did."

CCA executives say they won't let anyone return to their homes until they're absolutely sure it's safe.

E-mail sstoler@wfaa.com

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